January, eh? Possibly the longest month ever. Also a great excuse to hunker down with the books of an evening and close the door on the dark and wintry nights. A reformed winter-phobe myself, these days I love the opportunity to partake in all things cosy inside (good weather brings so much more pressure to be out doing things 😉 ). So if you’re looking for some additions to your winter to-read list, I’ve got a few fantastic books to share. Don’t forget, you can also catch up on my favourite books from 2018 (including my two December reads), in this post I wrote at the end of last year. With books like Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager on my reading list for 2019, the outlook is also looking fab.
Back to the present, though, and my first book for January was A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in Sarah J. Maas’s Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. This instalment sees conflict in Feyre’s relationship with shape-shifter Tamlin and a new and surprising alliance with Rhysand, High Lord of all things dark. It’s a fantastic read – in my opinion even better than the first one – and Maas’s evocative writing literally sparkles off the page. You can almost imagine yourself in her other-worldly realms, complete with faeries, magic and intrigue. Lovers of tales like Twilight will enjoy it – we’ve needed a new love triangle to get our teeth into for a while. I can’t wait to find out what happens in the final instalment now. Thankfully, it’s waiting in my to-read pile as I write.
My second book for the month was The Lewis Man, by Peter May, the second book in another popular trilogy. You might remember my reading its predecessor, The Blackhouse, during our trip to the Outer Hebrides in our campervan back in 2017. This instalment sees (now) ex-detective Fin Macloed return to the island of Lewis where he becomes embroiled in another case with personal connections. A body is found in a peat bog, the main suspect is suffering from dementia – and that suspect also happens to be his ex-lover’s beloved Dad. What really makes these novels stand out from the crowd is May’s mesmerising depiction of the Hebridean landscape – it really makes me want to go back there. Again, I’d say this book is even better than the first one in the series (there’s a theme here….). And yes, the final instalment – The Chessmen – is already sitting waiting on my shelf.
I often forget to mention books that I read with my kids on here – I still read lots of books to my nine year old (it’s one of my favourite pastimes). The Podkin One-Ear series by Kieran Larwood is a firm favourite with him, and this month we’ve been reading – yep, you’ve guessed it – the second book in the series, The Gift of Dark Hollow, which is a lovely, adventure-packed read. It follows plucky rabbit Podkin and his siblings as they fight against an evil foe, the Gorm, and their terrifying leader Scramashank. It’s a great series for kids aged around 9-11 with a firm focus on friendship, loyalty, and being the very best that you can be.
My fourth book for the month was Run for Your Life by William Pullen. I heard about this book on a Dr Chatterjee podcast recently and thought it sounded like an interesting read. It’s based on the premise that movement is medicine and introduces a technique called Dynamic Running Therapy (the long and short of which is that running can help our mental health with specific strategies for mitigating things like depression and anxiety). Although I’m not sure I’d use all of the strategies (I have enough trouble just putting one foot in front of the other when running), I picked up some really interesting snippets I can use at a future stage. There’s a great chapter on mindful running, and also doing ’empathy runs’ with children – using running to promote feelings of empathy and kindness and also helping kids open up about any issues they might be experiencing. I’ve already stared using some of the mindful running exercises on my weekly Parkruns. The talking while running thing though? That bit is just going to have to wait.
My fifth book for the month (January’s a long one, remember), was I Am, I Am, I Am by author Maggie O’ Farrell. I heard about this book from Stacie over at Parker and Me and thought it was something I might enjoy. It’s a memoir told through stories of O’ Farrell’s unusually high number of near-death experiences. It’s an amazing book – you will hardly believe that so many brushes with death could occur within one life. Having said that, it might be worth noting that some of the experiences could trigger existing anxieties. For example, there is a graphic description of an incident on an aircraft which a person who hates flying (i.e. me) could find very difficult to read. Despite this, it’s a book I’d thoroughly recommend – O’Farrell is a truly gifted writer. If you haven’t read her novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox go find it – it’s an example of her fiction at its best.
My final book for January was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I won’t say too much about that one here because I wrote a whole post about it a couple of weeks ago (you can read the blog right here). Suffice to say it’s a must for anyone who is, or wants to be more creative. It’s also a fantastic book for just about anyone who wants to practise a little more self care.
So that’s it for my January round up, I’ll be back in February with lots more of all things bookish. Now tell me, what are you all reading at the moment? Forever seeking reading inspiration for the pile!
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ALTHOUGH PETER WAS WRITING SOME GREAT BOOKS YEARS AGO, HE WAS UNABLE TO INTEREST A BRITISH PUBLISHER AND SO MOVED TO FRANCE AND WAS PICKED UP BY A FRENCH PUBLISHER. HE THEN RETURNED TO CHINA AND WAS AMAZED TO SEE THE CHANGES AFTER THE REVOLUTION AND WROTE SOME GREAT BOOKS SET IN CHINA.
TRY ‘THE KILLING ROOM’ BY PETER MAY, SADLY PETER DIED LAST YEAR AND WILL BE SADLY MISSED, CHINA
I did notice he’d written books set in China, although to be honest crime isn’t normally my genre – it was the Hebridean link that really attracted me. I’m pretty sure he’s still alive though? His writing is so good!
Must read Court of Mist and Fury. Loved the first one. So many good books and the kids one sounds great x
Oh, if you liked the first one you’ll love the second, Susan! xx
I love The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox too! I Am, I Am, I Am didn’t appeal to me though, I’m not sure why…
I read and enjoyed the first two books in this Peter May trilogy – it’s been a while though, so I’d love to reread them both and then read ‘The Chessmen’ one after the other!! x
It was my Dad who got me started on the Peter May trilogy Andrea – to be honest, it’s probably not the sort of thing I’d have picked up myself, but I’ve really enjoyed it! I had a big gap between reading the first and second books so I’d forgotten a few of the story details. I’ll try not to leave it so long until I read the third! xx
I’m glad you read the Maggie O’Farrell one. It’s a tough read isn’t it? I couldn’t believe that this was her life! I’ve not read any of the others, although I have read the first two novels in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas – they were good, not sure why I’ve not carried on with the series! x
I did really enjoy the Maggie O’ Farrell book Stacie, although ‘enjoy’ never seems quite the right word really as it is tough reading occasionally. I find with series books I have to be really into them as they can be quite a commitment (and also tend to be quite lengthy). I do love the ACOTAR series though! x